My brother-in-law, John, is in the deaconate program in his diocese, and one of his jobs is to open up the church during the week and prepare for the early morning Communion Service. He is supposed to open the doors to air out the building because there are restrictions on the use of the air conditioning. This morning he had to contend with forces which were clearly militating against the Communion Service.


The fire alarm went off and neither John nor anybody else knew how to silence it. So it rang for about 10 minutes until it finally stopped. But the Communion Service could still not begin, because a woman went quietly to the sacristy and announced that there was a snake in the bathroom.


John is not a snake guy so he stepped aside and let the deacon be the hero. The deacon went into the bathroom at the back of the church to see what he could do about the snake. About that time, four burly firemen entered the Church through the front door by the altar looking for the fire. By then, people had forgotten the false fire alarm and thought the firemen were there for the snake, so they motioned for them to go to the back of the church! Before they got there, the deacon shooed the snake out right past John’s feet. With a long pole they “escorted” the snake out of the church and after it was gone, the deacon told John it was a desert sidewinder.


My sister, not knowing if they had found the snake, was sitting in the pew with suspended feet, just in case the snake should come her way. Later, when she asked what they did with the snake, they said they had shooed it out of the church and it had gone back to the garden.


Snakes in the garden can be dangerous. Certainly the serpent in the Garden of Eden was up to no good, and I suspect this snake could do a lot of harm to any innocent person seeking peace and quiet in that little garden paradise in the middle of the desert. And just as the serpent in the Garden had to get close to Eve to get her attention, the sidewinder doesn’t generally make itself known until it is close enough to strike.

Apparently there are no windows in the church which can be opened to air out the building. What will the pastor do now, knowing that the serpent is close by?


P.S.  Despite the disruptions, the Communion Service went on as planned!